Thursday, June 12, 2008

Forrest City's Animal Shelter




I visited today with Brook Goodbar regarding the management and operation of the Forrest City Animal Shelter. The proper name may be the St. Francis County Animal Shelter.

Ms. Goodbar was very knowledgeable, professional, and courteous. She provided a tour and explained the operations there.

She counts on the assistance of volunteers and the local humane society working hand-in-hand in a partnership with the city. The building, which was built less than two (2) years ago, is a nice building with an office, restrooms, wash room for animals and dishes, clothes changing area, medical clinic like area and place for storage of towels, food and supplies. In addition, the property includes an outdoor play area for the dogs and puppies. This areas is only available to the animals after determining that they pose no risk to the other like animals.

The building is equipped with an air exchange system which pulls the air through the building to the rear for an exit. This air exchange keep the building from being malodorous. Ms. Goodbar explained the layout and design of the building and how such makes it easier to maintain and good, clean and wholesome environment for the animals.

The slideshow, above, is a series of shots taken while on-site today. Previously, Mayor Gordon McCoy had gone to the shelter, however, I had not been given the tour like I was today. Ms. Goodbar works seven (7) days a week including Sundays and Christmas Day. The weekends and holidays are abbreviated and generally involve only cleaning and feeding.

The Animal Shelter has two (2) employee slots. One slot is open and therefore Ms. Goodbar and the volunteers are taking care of the entire process.

Ms. Goodbar has spoken with persons with concerns about our situation and has offered her assistance in pitfall avoidance and good planning strategy. She emphasized that there must be cooperation, coordination and teamwork between and among those groups that care about the health and welfare of the animal population.

I thank Ms. Goodbar for her handy assistance today. I also thank Ms. Glynis Lynch and Mayor Gordon McCoy for their assistance with this and other matters of importance to our local community.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently read of your "decision" to release approximately 10 DOMESTIC dogs into the nearby national forest. You clearly either had NO understanding of the responsibility that your city government took on when Animal Control officers took those dogs into their care or you simply didn't care about that responsibility! I am an animal control officer in a small community in Wyoming. We house dogs and cats that arrive at our Shelter either by surrender from their owner or by Officer impoundment. Either way, once our city takes these animals into our care they are the property and responsibility of the city. Your actions in this circumstance are truly abominable (that should be your word of the day). Why don't you look it up! A real man, a real civil servant, a real professional, a real administrator, a real human being would have seen that if there was no budget or facility to house those animals properly they would have been either transported to a nearby community where they could be housed or they would have been humanely euthanized. You have shown yourself and those complicit in this act to be lacking in the very basic quality of responsibility and humanity. I am not a bleeding heart "save the animals" type. Euthanasia is a fine alternative to endless housing of animals. If the reports of bites to Officers during handling of these animals are true then it is likely that some, if not all of these animals, posed a danger to staff which has now been unleashed upon the community at large. Any public servant, from police officer to mayor, should stand by the oath to "do no harm" through their actions. I SERIOUSLY question whether you can say that you, Mayor, have done no harm in this circumstance.

I hope that you and any staff involved in this egregious act are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and I further hope that you and the aforementioned staff are immediately removed from public office. You are clearly not cut out to bear the burden of responsibility if your first choice when faced with a difficult situation is to just "make the situation someone else's problem". You are truly gutless. You should be ashamed of your actions.

Berner_girl said...

Dear Mayor Valley,

Unlike other dog lovers, I am not out for blood regarding the decision to release 10 domestic dogs into St. Francis National Park. However, I do wish to make it clear that I find that decision to be a serious error of judgment.

Releasing domestic dogs into a national park was neither good for the dogs, nor for the community. Though many people believe dogs to be descended from wolves, this does not make them their equals or equivalents. The brain of a dog is smaller and in some ways, functionally different from that of a wolf. A dog is not equipped to live, uncared for, in the wild, especially if it was not feral in the first place.

I presume that St. Francis National Park is not a fenced property teeming with park rangers who will care diligently for the animals. Even if it was, I doubt that it would effectively contain them. The dogs will likely gravitate toward humans who, until the time of their release, were the source of all important resources like food and social environment. They will scavenge through dumpsters. They will meet with traffic and highways. They will become nuisances in the community. Dog bites will ensue. People will either deal with them by contacting animal authorities to find an appropriate shelter or rescue or they will shoot or poison them. They may spread disease, if they live long enough to contract or carry them. 10 dogs is not cause to predict a local crisis, but is it any less of a potential threat if one child’s face is seriously damaged by a hungry, cornered dog? (According to animal behaviorist Jean Donaldson in her book The Culture Clash, dog bites are the most common cause for facial disfigurement in children.) I’m sure that child’s parents wouldn’t think so.

As a member of the dog-loving community, I am familiar with – and wish to point out to you – some of the other options that were present to house the dogs. If I am not mistaken, the dogs were set loose because the town shelter was ill-equipped to handle them while the new, county-wide shelter project was underway. Lack of funds was a contributing factor and proverbially washing the town’s hands of the animals was a way to put the funds to better use within the community, correct. Here are some other ways this could have been solved with the animals’ welfare at heart:

• The dogs could have been fostered by volunteers in the community until they were adopted. This is a system utilized by other shelters in the case of animals that are sick or otherwise unfit to be housed in the shelter facility.
• If the shelter lacked the funds to pay for the dogs’ expenses while they were fostered, they could have been surrendered to another shelter or rescue. Rescue organizations operated by groups of individuals who foster animals until they can find homes for them are prolific in my area of Oregon, though I am admittedly unfamiliar with the Helena-West Helena locale.
• If the shelter was in an area where overcrowding and lack of demand was a problem, transports for the dogs could easily have been coordinated via the Internet. This is a method that is gaining in popularity to move dogs in areas with high euthanasia rates or low demand for adoption to other shelters, rescues, or new homes. Volunteers along the specified route donate their time, money, and gas to drive the dogs for one or more “legs” of the trip.

As I said, I am not out for blood and I seek to keep this comment in as respectful a tone as possible. I know you are probably flooded with snarling e-mails from angered, well-meaning dog owners, as many in the dog-loving community are enraged by this decision. My hope is that, if possible, the dogs may be recollected and dealt with in a manner as suggested above, and that this decision will be appropriately learned from. I hope that no leader, in times where other solutions are available, will find this to be an acceptable solution to housing homeless animals.

God’s blessings,
Elizabeth Beadle

Anonymous said...

Good job hero. What you did is absolutely against the law. Hope you are ready to pay the consequences.

ARKANSAS CODE OF 1987
TITLE 5. CRIMINAL OFFENSES
SUBTITLE 6. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, OR WELFARE
CHAPTER 62. ANIMALS
SUBCHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS

5-62-101. Cruelty to animals
(a) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if, except as authorized by law, he knowingly:
(1) Abandons any animal;
(2) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; (3) Subjects any animal in his custody to cruel neglect; or
(4) Kills or injures any animal belonging to another without legal privilege or consent of the owner.
(b) Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c)(1) In addition to all other penalties provided by law, the court may order any person found guilty of cruelty to animals to receive a psychiatric or psychological evaluation, and if determined appropriate, psychiatric or psychological counseling or treatment.
(2) The cost of any evaluation, counseling or treatment may be ordered paid by the defendant up to the jurisdictional limit of the court

(d) If the person pleads guilty, nolo contendere to, or is found guilty of cruelty to animals, the court may assign custody of the abused animal or animals to a society which is incorporated for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

5-62-110 Definitions.

(a) As used in this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) 'Animal' or 'dumb animal' includes every living creature;
(2) 'Torture', 'torment', or 'cruelty' include every act, omission, or neglect whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted;
(3) 'Owner' and 'person' include corporations as well as individuals.

(b) Nothing in this act shall be construed as prohibiting the shooting of birds or other game for the purpose of human food.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mayor Valley,

I was appalled to read of your decision to release the animals that were being housed in your local animal shelter into the wild. This was not a sound decision from any viewpoint.

As a pediatric nurse who has had to treat numerous children with dog bites, I can tell you that this was a poor choice, not only for the dogs but also for your community.

I am also a former resident of Houston, TX, and we had a big problem stray dogs in our neighborhood. I would like to know how much research you did, both from a legal and a community impact standpoint, before you made this decision.

I am not a resident of your community but I have family who are, and I will be sure to let them know who is responsible for the increase in the numbers of feral animals they will surely be seeing.

That would be a GREAT "word of the day" for you: feral.

Mary Ann Irwin

Anonymous said...

In following the story of your decision to "abandon" domestic animals likely legally owned by your city to the nearby national forest I see your cute little blog. I see you find it interesting to incorporate lots of feel good little stories and a "word of the day section". I think it's unfortunate that one elected by a city full of constituents would find it so easy to spend obviously considerable amounts of time maintaining a personal blog when one obviously has much bigger fish to fry for the benefit and protection of the two legged and four legged citizens of his community. It seems that some of the blogging time and effort could/should be redirected toward actual governance and self education concerning the pertinent issues surrounding the ramifications of releasing domestic dogs (some with reportedly questionable temperaments) into a national forest where families like to recreate. Non only will these dogs struggle to sustain their lives, reproduce uncontrolled and likely live unhealthy, desperate lives, they will likely become a feral public health risk for people in the area. They may only be 10 strong now but how many will they be when they have reproduced, unchecked for even one full season? Did you even consider that aspect of your "decision"? I think your word of the day should be "abandon" as it applies to an animal, as it applies to reason, as it applies to common sense, as is applies to responsible governance as you have been elected to uphold.

Rene Sollars

Rosa said...

I hope the voters in your fine State remember this when it comes time for re-election. You should be ashamed of yourself. How could anyone, especially one who claims to be so deeply religious, treat animals like this? Over years Humans have domesticated these animals-they can't just fend for themselves...what were you thinking???? How dare you take these defenseless dogs and throw them into the forest! You are a disgrace to Humanity and I will continue to follow this matter until the proper charges are brought against you! Perhaps you should have followed Sen. Kent Williams up in South Carolina better. He dumped his very pregnant dog at a high kill shelter to be killed. Just Google his name now-you'll find story after story talking about this heartless act. Don't think for one moment that your act is any less deserving of such press.
I really think YOU should be stripped naked and dumped in the forest!

Frostfire said...

Your actions in this situation have clearly proved that you are in no way worthy to hold public office. Apparently you did not bother to look for alternatives, which you could have found with very little effort.

"The Prettiest Situation on the Mississippi River" just became very ugly. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

"The mayor said the city would need about $50,000 to $60,000 to open a new animal shelter, and would work toward that end with county officials. Helena-West Helena also needs to aggressively enforce its animal control laws, he said."

Enforce animal control laws? So who are these laws intended for? Obviously not the mayor? Is this your idea of leadership? Is this the message you want to send the citizens of your community? Do as I say, not as I do?

Yes, I do believe the mayor has just broken the law! Unbelievable!

I truly don't know what else to say. Those poor dogs!

C. Vanbuskirk